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Handyman convicted in murder of Tigard man

WolfgangA Yamhill handyman will spend the next 30 years in prison after he was convicted of killing a Tigard man and leaving his naked body in a barn in rural Yamhill County.

Xavier Wolfgang, 41, was convicted on Feb. 4 of murder, first-degree assault, second-degree abuse of a corpse and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in connection to the death of 77-year-old Walter Adelman of Tigard.

Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins announced the verdict after a six-day bench trial. Wolfgang waived the right to have his case heard by a jury.

On Feb. 6, Wolfgang was sentencted to a total of 30 years and six months in prison.

Wolfgang, who is originally from California, was arrested in April 2012 for allegedly bludgeoning Adelman to death with a piece of wood in a rural area outside of Sheridan.

Adelman was found dead in an outbuilding of his home on April 18, 2012.

Adelman had purchased the property — located at 17451 E. Rock Creek Road, about five miles outside of Sheridan’s city limits — in 2011. He had placed an ad on Craigslist for a caretaker, hiring Wolfgang.

Yamhill County sheriff’s deputies first went to the home on a welfare check, after Adelman’s daughter called 911 saying she was concerned.

The daughter said her father had gone to do some remodeling work on the house he owned, but had not been heard from for several days, which was unusual.

Wolfgang, who sheriff’s deputies found on the property, said he had not seen Adelman for several days, although Adelman’s car was found at the home.

When deputies returned later that evening, they began to search the property and discovered Adelman’s body in a barn.

An autopsy revealed Adelman died of blunt-force trauma.

According to prosecutors, Wolfgang reportedly lived on the property and performed odd jobs, helping Adelman fix things up.

Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Tim Svenson told The Times in 2012 that Wolfgang had confessed to beating Adelman to death, even taking investigators back to the crime scene to show where it happened.

According to a statement Wolfgang made to police, he claimed Adelman had awakened him on April 17, and the two began to argue about the work Wolfgang was doing on the property.

Angered, Wolfgang followed Adelman into the property’s main house and reportedly struck Adelman with a piece of wood three times.

Wolfgang believed he had killed Adelman and left the house, according to the statement. However, Wolfgang allegedly began clubbing the victim again after realizing Adelman was still alive a short time later.

Wolfgang moved the body to a barn and threw the murder weapon and items Adelman had on him into a nearby creek, Svenson said.

Wolfgang’s defense attorneys told the court that Wolfgang’s confession was the result of confusion and coercion.

Adelman's family made a statement to Wolfgang before his sentence, saying that they hoped to one day forgive him for his acts.

"You are convicted of murder," the family said in a written statement. "You were not charged with the crime of theft, but that is what the family has suffered; the theft of relationship, of companionship, of mentorship, and of loving joyful indulgence."

To read the family's full statement, click here.


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